Daily Archives: October 28, 2012

What You Know and What You Don’t

The other day I was having a conversation on Twitter with my reviewer friends Paul Weimer (of SF Signal and Functional Nerds) and Sally Janin (of Qwillery) about a recent debut novel that is causing waves in the publishing industry. The book in question is called Stormdancer and is Jay Kristoff’s first book in the (billed to be) Lotus War series. The premise of the novel is that it is a coming-of-age story of a young girl in a setting that is touted as Japanese Steampunk, and explores her relationship with her somewhat-estranged father and an arashitora, or thunder tiger, or griffin. Our point of discussion was the cultural appropriation by Kristoff in the novel, his particular approach being severely unpalatable to me as someone who, while not very well-versed in, is still quite familiar with Japanese culture. The discussion extended to whether or not a reviewer’s familiarity with the settings/cultures portrayed in a speculative fiction novel play a big part in our perception of how good/bad a novel is.

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